About trauma
by Gabor Maté in the panel Jan 29, 2024 about the documentary “Israelism

Gabor Maté: In 2006 there was an article in the World Journal of Psychiatry about War Trauma Around the World and the impact of war trauma on children.  The highest percentage of such trauma was in Gaza and Palestine. Children having nightmares, children wetting their beds, children acting aggressively, children having behavior issues.

That was in 2005 and since then there has been a series of massacres in Palestine, especially in Gaza and it is ongoing in the West Bank as well.

One of the founders of Hamas, who was subsecuently assassinated by the Israelis was a pediatrician who was 8 years old in 1956 when he watched his uncle being killed during the massive seclusion of Palestinians unarmed boys and men. He said: “They planted hatred in my heart.”

Since 2005 things have only gotten worse and I do not have to tell you what is going on right now.

Hamas gave an explanation yesterday of the day before why they did what they did. I have to say, without justifying the killings of civilians, that the rationale for going in, their rationale was not to kill Jews. Their intention was (1) to seek hostages to exchange for their prisoners (I do not say heat they had the right to seek civilians), (2) to strike a blow against the Israeli army which they did blatantly, (3) and to wake the world up who has been ignoring the Palestinian plight for all of these decades.

Saudi Arabia was about to sign a sweetheart deal with Israel bypassing the Palestinians once again. The political aims were very legitimate. And th young men that streamed into Israel that day, WHO WERE THEY?  The grown up traumatized children. Are we surprised that some of them committed such crimes? Not to justify anything, but to understand. What do we expect to happen in this generation that is witnessing 20,000 orphans in Gaza.

The 2006 study of the trauma of Palestinian children had to so with watching their parents be beaten and humiliated, themselves being beaten, bombing, killings, insecurity. This is all happening in an exponential scale right now.

What do we look forward to. It will be horrendous. Traumatized people are more likely .


It is pretty much what the official media portrays and tells the Palestinians.

Jews still have not healed the trauma of the Holocaust and we see that in their response to what is happening in Palestine. You know, they say that day (October 7) more Jews have been killed in one day since the end of the Holocaust. As if they were killed because they were Jewish!

As some has said, if they would have been elephants or dinasours or Dutch or English, but doing what Israel is doing to the Palestinians, they would have been killed, not for being Jewish, but in the traumatized mind, those distinctions do not exist. In those minds, the past completely defined the present.

What kind of present are the Palestinian kids going to have?

Israel knows that very well and that is why they are thinking of getting rid of all of them in Gaza. If they could, they would and if they do not, it is only because the world will not let them. 52% Israelis believe that GAZA should be at present, settled by Jews again.  Israel is creating a buffer zone right now between Gaza and Israel.

My own surprise is not that some Palestinians hate us, the surprise is those that so not hate us!

Naomi Klein final statement:

 There is a need for different kinds of stories, examples of people changing their minds, like in the documentary… off from that ideology, changing the story. Standing for principles,  and when you talk about trauma, it is going to reverberate for generations, it does not get “magicked out”, it is not a fix, a solution.  We need examples  stories, of tremendous horror, producing change.

From the fires of the Holocaust, there was a fork in the road. The “Never Again, We Let that Horror Happen” and out of that horror was born the entire architecture of humanitarian law, that currently Israel is violating systematically.  Including the 1948 Geneva Convention the Universal Declaration, the same year the State of Israel was born. Al of these commitments; it is like each has an asterix next to it for Israel: except this form of hatred, except this or that.

You cannot choose from the universal rights! We have no control what happens in the ICJ court case, but we control how we behave here, how we relate. It is up to us to decide what principles govern out relationships.

The politics that we need is to build movement around that.